Today’s first reading from the Book of Revelation gives us the imagery of a woman clothed with the sun and wailing in pain as she is in labor to give birth. From early tradition, this apocalyptic woman has been identified with Mary and later with the Church itself. Just as Mary gave birth to Christ at one moment in history, the Church is called to birth Christ in today’s world.
I would like to stretch this birthing imagery beyond Mary, the Church and the Christ figure to a new vision that we need to realize in this world, the vision of a new social order based on equality, justice and freedom for all. We need to birth this new vision that would subvert the social hierarchies and the power structures that are oppressive, and this is what we hear foretold in today’s Gospel: ‘the mighty would be cast down from their thrones and the lowly lifted up, the hungry shall be filled with good things, and the rich, sent away empty.” In this new social order, whoever is devalued for their colour, gender, sexual orientation, social status and the like, regain their dignity and personhood
The Feast of the Assumption invites us then, to birth a new vision like the apocalyptic woman and like Mary, by becoming persons, a community, a Church who can intervene prophetically in this world. This new vision that we call the Reign of God would be realized where people share, where they love the earth and all its creatures, where they take a stance to include the excluded ones of this world into the table fellowship of life. For this to happen, we need to be impregnated by the Spirit – Sophia, the Wisdom of God, who would make us friends of God and the prophets. Then, we will give birth to God as Mary did and share in her assumption in the ‘already- not yet’ dialectic, till we merge fully with the source of life.
Kochurani Abraham, Vice-President of the Indian Theological Association.
May we birth the reign of God on earth.
Consider this interpretation of the Assumption. Does it resonate with you? How can you hep to establish the reign of God in your circle of life?
“My soul magnifies the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
He has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is God’s Name.
God has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
God has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
Mary magnifies God her savior, which in Elizabethan English means to to celebrate the greatness, or to sing and dance in praise of the goodness of someone wonderful. Her soul and her spirit do this, her whole self, her whole being, with body, mind and strength. Hers are not the words of half-hearted appreciation. She is caught up and feels herself lifted up into God’s good and gracious will. With a foretaste of eschatological delight, she breaks forth into praise and singing.
Elizabeth Johnson, Truly Our Sister
The modern woman will note with pleasant surprise that Mary of Nazareth, while completely devoted to the will of God, was far from being a timidly submissive woman or one whose piety was repellent to others; on the contrary, she was a woman who did not hesitate to proclaim that God vindicates the humble and the oppressed, and removes the powerful people of this world from their privileged positions .Paul VI
In the Magnificat, Mary moves from active nonviolence to prophetic nonviolence. With great joy and confidence, she announces God’s reign of peace and justice, and denounces the world’s reign of war and injustice. With these words, she not only sums up the message of all the prophets in a nutshell, she reveals herself as Jesus’ teacher. The entire Gospel can be found in the Magnificat.
The Magnificat is a revolutionary document of passionate conflict and vindication, calling all believers to a journey of solidarity with all oppressed peoples. Mary’s Song is the great new Canticle of Liberation, praising a God who has promised “com-unity” with those who suffer from personal and systemic injustice, and more importantly has been “faith-full” to those sustaining promises.
Daniel W. Casey, Jr.